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“‘They brought them from the Palenque’: Captivity and Smuggling in Jamaica, ca. 1660”

Casey Schmitt
Tuesday January 25
OI Colloquium with Casey Schmitt

Following the English invasion of Jamaica in 1655, Spanish forces maintained a toehold on the island over five years of guerilla warfare in large part because of the food and shelter they received from three different semi-autonomous Afro-Jamaican communities on the island. While historians discuss two of the three Afro-Jamaican villages, they also often repeat the claim that Afro-descended peoples from one of those communities, the region around Porus, either “died out in the 1670s, fled to Cuba, or merged” with the Windward Maroons in eastern Jamaica. Reading across imperial archives, however, reveals that the Porus captives did not disappear or die out, they were trafficked off of the island by an English ship captain. This chapter is part of a larger project on human trafficking in the seventeenth-century Caribbean and focuses specifically on the experiences of captives trafficked across imperial boundaries during moments of war.

Casey Schmitt is a historian of early America and the Caribbean, with particular interests in human trafficking, colonization, and illicit economies over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In her research and her teaching, she is interested in tracing individuals who crossed imperial boundaries—by choice and by coercion—in order to understand how processes like colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and trade functioned in the interstices of early modern empires. She is currently at work on a book manuscript, tentatively titled The Predatory Sea: Human Trafficking, Colonization, and Trade in the Greater Caribbean, 1530-1690, which analyzes the ubiquity of human trafficking and captivity in the greater Caribbean and North America from the 1530s until the 1690s and what that meant for colonization, trade, and warfare in the region. At Cornell, she teaches classes on colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and corruption.



The OI’s Colloquium Series is an ongoing seminar for scholars to present their work in progress for graduate students and colleagues.  Advanced registration is required. All participants read the pre-circulated  paper and prepare to engage in generous and generative feedback.

When we meet in person we are limited by the size of the OI’s conference room; online we limit registration to 40 (a typical size for the colloquium). No recordings are made of the discussions and no tweeting or posting on other social media platforms during the event is permitted in order to encourage this intellectual community of trusted exchange.


Contact Beverly Smith for your copy.


Tuesday, January 25

6:30 pm - 8:00 pm EST



Casey Schmitt

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